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Bag Tax Appears To Be Working

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

Early figures suggest shoppers in D.C. are using far fewer plastic and paper bags than expected now that they're being charged 5 cents a pop.

The bag tax went into effect on the first of this year. The idea was to raise money to clean up the Anacostia River and discourage the use of disposable bags. The results are in for January: the District raised $150,000 dollars from about 3 million bags. The city expected to raise double that, which means people are using fewer plastic and paper bags than predicted. Council Member Tommy Wells sponsored the original bill.

"We certainly have learned through this how optional the disposable bag is in the course of our daily business," he says.

The results only represent one month, and Wells says it's too soon to tell what the long term response to the tax will be. But, the sharp drop off in bag use is borne out by some businesses. A Safeway spokesperson says he received reports bag use dropped 50 percent. Some smaller stores reported even steeper drops.

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